Megan Dennis

image of Megan Dennis

Assistant Professor


UC Davis Genome Center
M.I.N.D. Institute
Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine

Offices and Labs

Office: GBSF 4515
Genome Center Lab: GBSF 4617A
Zebrafish facility: Tupper Hall

Profile Introduction

Though numerous studies have sought to identify the underlying mechanisms contributing to human-specific neurological traits and diseases, a large proportion of causal genes remain undiscovered. Our group uses genome sequencing to pinpoint genes contributing to innovative human-specific phenotypes and their role in disease, primate evolution, population diversity, and gene regulation.


2009 Ph.D. Human Genetics University of Oxford - NIH
2004 B.S. Biochemical Engineering Michigan State University

Research Contribution

Research Interests

Human genetics and genomics

We are interested in identifying the underlying causal genes and mutations that make us uniquely human using genetics and genomics techniques. Using a "genome first" approach, one area of interest is identifying genes and complex genomic variants unique to the human lineage, such as duplicated genes, that may contribute to phenotypic differences.

Alternately, we can also identify important genes contributing to human traits by identifying mutations that lead to malfunctions of these traits such as reading (dyslexia), higher intellect (intellectual disability), social behavior (autism), language (specific language development), etc. Finally, we can use molecular evolution and population genetics to identify and functionally characterize genes exhibiting extraordinary signatures of selection.

Zebrafish to test human neural genes

We use zebrafish to understand the function of human genes contributing to disease and phenotypic traits. With the advent of CRISPR gene editing tools, we can now systematically mutate and assess the phenotypic consequences of these mutations for any gene of interest.

Sequencing complex genomic variation

We are developing methods to capture complex genomic variation using long-read sequencing technologies otherwise recalcitrant to analysis.


K99/R00 NIH Pathway to Independence Award. NINDS.
Sloan Research Fellowship. The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Department and Center Affiliations

Genome Center
MIND Institute
Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine

CBS Grad Group Affiliations

Biochemistry, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology
Integrated Genetics and Genomics

Specialties / Focus

Biochemistry, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology
  • Molecular Genetics
  • Gene Regulation
  • Genomics, Proteomics and Metabolomics
  • Molecular Medicine
Integrated Genetics and Genomics
  • Human Genetics and Genomics
  • Integrated Genetics and Genomics
  • Model Organism Genetics


GGG 201B Genomics (Winter)
MCB 220L BMCDB Rotations (Fall)
MCB 211 Macromolecular Structure and Interactions (Fall)


  • A complete list of publications can be found here.